2016 Russell Athletic Bowl: Miami, West Virginia coaches discuss matchup

Dana Holgorsen (left) and Mark Richt (Getty Images)

Dana Holgorsen (left) and Mark Richt (Getty Images)

[It’s Miami-West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl]

[Three Hurricanes get Senior Bowl invites]

[Recruiting roundup: Updates from first postseason week]

[The wild story behind The Rock-Kevin Patrick fight]

[UM earns votes in second-to-last AP, coaches polls]

Hours after the Russell Athletic Bowl chose its participants, the coaches for Miami (8-4, 5-3 ACC) and West Virginia (10-2, 7-2 Big 12; No. 14 AP, No. 16 CFP) discussed the matchup.

The game is 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28. It will be televised on ESPN.

For starters: “I know everybody’s really loving this opportunity,” UM coach Mark Richt said. “We’re going to play a great football team in West Virginia … We know Orlando itself is a great town and a great place to have a bowl. There’s a lot of fun things to do. The coaches wives and kids have a ball. Coaches tend to work hard at bowls and don’t get to do a lot of the fun stuff. But it’ll be a great challenge and a lot of fun for us.”

The schedule: Richt on Miami’s bowl-month schedule: Miami may have a “short and sweet” practice on Saturday. If not, practice will begin next Thursday, Dec. 15. He made it sound as if the Hurricanes will leave for Orlando on Dec. 23.

The coaches: Richt has not faced WVU coach Dana Holgorsen, but his Georgia team lost to West Virginia in the 2005 Sugar Bowl, 38-35. What’s his knowledge of Holgorsen? “I watch, yeah. I know he’s been more of an offensive coach throughout his career.”

Richt saw a similarity between he and Holgorsen: “When he first became a head coach he was more in an offensive coordinator mindset. He realized he might have to call the game a little differently to help the defense at times. A lot of the same thing I went through back in 2001 to 2007. I know he’s done a great job there, and got [a contract] extension too, which is nice for him.”

That five-year extension, which will keep Holgorsen in Morgantown through 2021, was announced after WVU beat Baylor last Saturday.

Recruiting: The game in Orlando should be a major opportunity for the Hurricanes to play in front of in-state recruits. Richt said recruits can attend UM’s bowl practice — “it’s usually common knowledge where we practice” — but coaches and players cannot have contact with them.

“We cannot make available tickets to the bowl game, either,” he said. “I hope a lot of them come and watch the game. But if nothing else, knowing we’re playing in-state and knowing we’re having success, I think that’ll be good enough.”

The future: Richt said he’s had conversations with NFL draft-eligible players (such as Brad Kaaya and David Njoku).

“We’ve begun the dialogue,” he said, calling it “a process, not a one-time sit-down conversation.”

“It’s kind of a business decision, but it also becomes a little bit of an emotional decision too,” Richt said. “There’s still a lot of things to play for. A possible championship in the future, national awards, the opportunity to get your degree before you leave are all good reasons too. So those are some of the things we’ll be weighing in trying to decide what’s best for them.”

The streak: Richt on ending Miami’s 10-year bowl victory drought:

“I think it’s very important,” he said. “I think our guys know that. Every guy that’s in the room, whether he’s been there one year or three or four years, they haven’t had the victory at the end of the year. I know they’re all hungry for it. I know I am too. Obviously West Virginia will be also.

“I do have a philosophy about planning our practice schedules to get us prepared for the game, rather than having a bunch of extra spring practices, that type of thing.”

The ballot: Why did Richt rank Miami 20th in his latest coaches’ poll ballot?

“I think we’re a quality team that deserves to be ranked. That ranking will probably be proven right or wrong, I guess, after this bowl game.”

Colbert back? Injured Hurricanes Adrian Colbert and Sunny Odogwu, Richt said, have added a “positive vibe” to the room and the sideline while sitting out.

Richt added that Colbert, the grad transfer cornerback, has a “very, very good chance” to play in the bowl game. He has been out since Oct. 29 with a broken forearm. Odogwu (broken ankle, Oct. 8) will not play.

Holgorsen’s thoughts: Holgorsen’s call was more succinct, lasting two questions according to a bowl representative.

According to Scout.com, Holgorsen noted that “there is a lot of history between West Virginia and Miami from the Big East days and that’s way before my time. I’m going to have to get educated on the former match-ups and all that but obviously Miami has got great tradition and coach Richt does a phenomenal job. From a recruiting perspective it’s not secret that we love recruiting Florida and we love recruiting south Florida and we go against Miami all the time.”

He added that the two fanbases “have about a month to rekindle that flame” of the former Big East rivalry.

“Coaches and players pretty much go about their business and prepare the same way and line up but from a fan’s perspective I guarantee it’s going to happen,” he said. “I’m expecting a ton of people there. I have already gotten tons of calls from a lot of our fanbase and we’ll be down there in droves, I can assure you of that. If it hasn’t rekindled itself yet, it’s going to pretty quick.”

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